The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) raised the need to urgently augment the local pork supply through importation, noting that the meat remained as the top contributor to inflation last month.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said the temporary reduction of pork tariffs and the increase of its minimum access volume (MAV) will immediately curb the rising pork inflation for the benefit of some 100 million Filipinos.
“Meat has been persistently the top contributor to inflation this year, hence we urgently need to temporarily augment our pork supply through importation. Retaining the status quo will cause 100 million Filipinos to suffer longer from high food prices,” Chua said in a statement.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Wednesday, May 5, that the country’s headline inflation rate in April remained unchanged from the previous month at 4.5 percent, above the government’s target range of 2.0 percent to 4.0 percent.
Meat inflation reached a record high at 22.1 percent during the month, as pork prices soared by 57.7 percent and contributed 1.4 percentage points to the overall price index.
NEDA noted that the continued outbreak of the African Swine Fever (ASF) resulted in a 26 percent contraction in hog production in the first-quarter 2021.
As stakeholders pursue repopulation strategies in the medium term, Chua emphasized that the temporary decrease in tariff rates and increase in MAV for pork are needed to immediately stabilize overall inflation and ensure food security.
“Price stability and food security during the ongoing pandemic should be given the highest priority,” Chua said.
“The temporary measure will also buy time and enable our local hog industry to repopulate their stock, without sacrificing the purchasing power of households, especially those who lost their jobs and income amid the pandemic,” he added.
Meanwhile, the government’s economic managers have reached “a compromise” with the Senate on the levels of pork import tariff rates and MAV under the controversial Executive Order (EO) No. 128.
The economic team and the Senatet agreed to recommended that the tariff rates in EO 128 be adjusted to 10 percent in-quota and 20 percent for out-quota for the first three months; and 15 percent in-quota and 25 percent for out-quota for the remaining nine months.
The economic team and the Senate also agreed that the MAV be reduced from 404,000 metric tons to 254,210 metric tons.
“The recommended revision is necessary to arrest the inflationary impact on millions of Filipino consumers due to the dwindling pork supply,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in a statement released on late Wednesday, May 6.
Dar will submit the revised pork import tariffs to the NEDA Board, which will in turn make the final recommendation to the Office of the President.